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Talk with Your Teen About AI

Recent articles about AI-generated pornographic images of Taylor Swift[1] swiftly (ha!) triggered conversations about AI and AI-generated porn. As a society, we’ve already been debating if AI is good or bad, positive or negative. What place does it have in the world? Well, I can’t answer those questions, but I can help you open a conversation with your teens about AI.

What is AI?

Let’s start here. AI is short for artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence has been around, but newer applications created a lot of buzz around this technology. And some of us need to start with the basics. Simply put, “artificial intelligence, or AI, is technology that enables computers and machines to simulate human intelligence and problem-solving capabilities.”[2]

AI development began in the 1950s and we’ve been recipients of the benefits since. This technology is used in the banking industry, to help with all types of customer service, and even to help us arrive at our destination without paper maps. In other words, GPS uses AI. Siri does, too.

Benefits of AI

As with most tools and resources, there are advantages and drawbacks. So, when preparing for a discussion with your teen, be sure to understand its functions—both positive and negative.

An article at Healthy Children points out that AI is a valuable tool for learning. AI can tailor lessons to individuals and enrich learning for kids, possibly helping children improve language skills. AI can also foster creativity and motivate children in new ways.[3]

How Do Kids Use AI?

Teens may use AI to help with their homework. “Generative AI is technology that creates content that in the past could come only from humans. For example, instead of sitting down to draft a report, a writer might use ChatGPT to come up with relevant facts and suggested wording. An artist might create what looks like an original photo or drawing by entering a short description into an AI-driven program. It’s easy to see why some kids use AI to help them with school assignments. They can find facts and search among millions of charts and images to learn more about a subject. AI also powers grammar programs that can check their work to fix writing errors.”[4]

Children also use AI in interactive toys, games, and internet platforms. However, some children, especially younger children, don’t understand the difference between AI and humans, which is concerning.[5]

What’s the Big Deal?

As you can imagine, leaning heavily on AI to generate a homework assignment without permission from teachers is a problem. Teens should understand the school policy and disclose their use of AI tech.

This may be a great place to open a discussion with your child. Ask if they use any online tools to help with their homework. While a product like Grammarly can be effective in cleaning up a paper, we want to ensure they are handling it properly and not plagiarizing.

Other Topics for Discussion

Social media employs AI. Filters in Snapchat, Instagram, and other apps use AI tech to generate the effects. In addition, “AI algorithms play a significant role in shaping teenagers’ online experiences, particularly on social media platforms. AI-driven algorithms curate content, suggest friends, and personalize advertisements based on users’ preferences and behavior. While this can enhance user experiences, it can also create filter bubbles, reinforce biases, and impact mental health.”[6] Teens should be aware of algorithms and how it affects their feed, and therefore, their thoughts and mental wellbeing. Talk with your child about this aspect of social media. Ask their opinion. Compare their feed to yours and note the differences, especially how the sponsored ads are individually specialized.

Julia Daniels of Ever Accountable recently wrote an article at Hopeful Mom about AI-generated porn. She said, “AI and porn is unleashing deadly dangers – creating a new wave of image-based sexual abuse and sextortion.”[7] Children, as well as adults, use AI to generate CSAM (child sexual abuse material). This type of pornography also normalizes anime-style porn. (For more information about anime and its relationship to pornography, see this article at Axis.) We want to help our teenagers comprehend these dangers. Explain how AI can be used against us. Additionally, warn that using AI against others is a form of cyberbullying, can be harmful, and is illegal.[8]

To get a better feel for artificial intelligence’s capabilities, sit with your child and experiment. Practice at Grammarly or ChatGPT, or ask your teen to demonstrate their knowledge on an app they use. Remind your child that appropriate use of AI takes proper training with regular monitoring by a trusted adult.

Conclusion

AI is here to stay. Remember, there are pros and cons to artificial intelligence and its many functions. We want to help our children recognize both the benefits and dangers associated with AI’s uses so they can use caution while online.

Barb Winters

Barb Winters is a Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist, author of Sexpectations: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Healthy Relationships, and founder of Hopeful Mom.

Resources

[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/taylor-swift-artificial-intellignence-ai-4chan/
[2] https://www.ibm.com/topics/artificial-intelligence
[3] https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/how-will-artificial-intelligence-AI-affect-children.aspx
[4] https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/how-will-artificial-intelligence-AI-affect-children.aspx
[5] https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/how-will-artificial-intelligence-AI-affect-children.aspx
[6] https://medium.com/@gulatiananya0806/5-impact-of-ai-on-teenagers-exploring-opportunities-and-challenges-c781c862a3fd#
[7] https://hopefulmom.net/how-to-talk-about-ai-and-porn-a-guide-for-parents/
[8] https://hopefulmom.net/how-to-talk-about-ai-and-porn-a-guide-for-parents/